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"We're ecstatic and exhilarated. People are being educated and empowered. But now, the hard work begins."
Twenty years ago this summer, the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill (NAMI) was founded to advance research, education, advocacy and support on behalf of persons with severe mental illnesses. Today, NAMI applauded the President of the United States and Mrs. Tipper Gore, Mental Health Advisor to the President, for their leadership in convening the first White House Conference on Mental Health, and embracing NAMI's language and agenda-including the President's announcement on Saturday of an official, national.campaign against stigma, which to many NAMI members sounded much like NAMI's own Campaign to End Discrimination.
"We are ecstatic and exhilarated," said NAMI Executive Director Laurie Flynn, who along with other NAMI leaders attended the conference. "Because of renewed focus on mental health issues, people throughout the country are being educated and empowered. Many individuals and families affected by mental illness will realize for the first time that they are not alone, and that there is hope for the future."
"But now, the hard work begins," Flynn said. "Americans will need to translate the vision of the conference into action. That includes Congress."
NAMI leaders attending the conference include Flynn, Bill Emmet (Rhode Island), Loretta Ferry (Pennsylvania) Edward Foulks (Louisiana), Michael Freedman (New York) Katrina Gay (Tennessee), Randolph Hack (Hawaii), Lois Hatton (South Dakota) Nancy Lee Head (DC), J. Rock Johnson (Nebraska), Molly Klocksin (Nebraska), and Diane Steele (Florida). Following the White Conference, NAMI will be glad to help arrange for media interviews with attendees about their specific impressions.
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